The H-2B visa is utilized in connection with a temporary foreign worker program. The H-2B program allows the employment of foreign workers by U.S.-based employers for temporary periods. These nonimmigrant visas are different from “green cards,” which are immigrant visas that grant permanent residence. In this program, the employer owns the H-2B visa.

The H-2B visa is available to companies that employ foreign non-agricultural workers. H-2B is only available for temporary work, such as:

  • Seasonal need
  • Peak-load need
  • Intermittent need

The H-2B visa can be used to fill a seasonal need for work that is typically associated with a season of the year and is of a recurring nature.

A peak-load need means that the employer needs temporary workers to supplement the permanent staff during times of peak demand.

An intermittent need means the employer only has an occasional need for temporary workers to carry out the labor, and they do not typically employ permanent, full-time workers to perform the labor.

To qualify for the H-2B program, an employer must meet the following requirements:

  • Present the foreign worker with a temporary or seasonal job offer
  • Establish that there is only a temporary need for the type of services or labor to be performed by the foreign worker
  • Establish that there is an absence of American workers who are qualified and available to perform the temporary labor
  • Establish that the employment of H-2B workers will not unfavorably affect the wages of similarly employed U.S. workers
  • The worker must have a foreign residence outside of the U.S. that they have no intention of leaving
  • Submit a temporary labor certification from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) as well as the H-2B petition.

Workers may apply for their own H-2B visas, but only if they are interested in working for a particular employer and that employer has received a temporary labor certification.

Workers are allowed to stay in the US just for the period of employment indicated on Form ETA 750, also known as Application for Alien Employment Certification. This period can be no more than a total of 3 years.

Some of the primary benefits of the H-2B visa include:

  • Entering the U.S. for temporary work and enjoying all the employee benefits
  • Bringing dependents with you to live in the U.S. during your stay
  • Traveling freely outside of the U.S. on the visa
  • Changing jobs if you can demonstrate the new job offer and have a new petition approved by the new employer.

There is a cap on the number of H-2B visas available each year. The current limit is 66,000 workers, with 33,000 of those workers beginning employment in the first half of the fiscal year and the remaining half of the workers beginning employment in the last half of the fiscal year.

Limitations of the H-2B visa include:

  • The employer's need for foreign temporary workers must not exceed a total of 3 years
  • The authorized time on the visa is counted no matter if the visa holder is in a foreign country or in the U.S.
  • Dependents of the visa holders may not work in the U.S.
  • The employer must meet all requirements

The H-2B Visa process involves more than just filling out an application and waiting on the results. There are detailed procedural requirements for obtaining benefits. Navigating the process can be time-consuming and challenging.

Contact Donald Gross Law for a free 30-minute consultation to start the application process for H-2B visas for temporary workers.